CAP 151 - Introduction to Computer Animation

Lesson 10 - Paint and Puppet


This lesson demonstrates some newer features in After Effects. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Paint basics
  2. Animating brush strokes
  3. Puppet tool
  4. Puppet overlap
  5. Puppet starch
  6. Assignment

This lesson introduces the use of the Paint and Puppet tools in After Effects. T After Effects, Paint itself is an effect, but it can also be animated.

Tutorial Notes and Questions

Work through the exercises and turn in your answers to all questions below as part of the homework for this assignment.

Tutorial 1 (Paint Basics):

  1. Open the project and comp file indicated on page 243. Note that the image file in the comp is prettier on your screen than it is in the text.
  2. Step two introduces a new way to change the workspace by using the Window menu. It has the same effect as using the Workspace dropdown list.
    Question 1: According to this step, in which panel must you use the After Effects Paint tool?
    The authors get a little silly, encouraging you to customize the panel layouts. DON'T! Do follow their suggestion to open the Project panel and dock it with the Comp panel. If you have forgotten how, review the concept on page 11.
  3. This step tells you to double click a tif. They mean to double click the layer that the tif is in. They tell you to use the keyboard command to switch to the Brush tool. This is one of the few times such a command is useful, in that the button for the tool will turn dark once the command is given, making it easier to locate the button.
    Question 2: What is the command given to switch to the Brush tool in Windows?
    The dangerous part of the keyboard command is that if you issue it again, it toggles to the next of the thee paint tools. Their icons are shown on page 243. Note the Brush settings that they want you to use in the discussion in this step.
  4. This step tells you to make sure the View settings on the Layer panel is set to Paint. You cannot do this. It is not a choice until you start painting on the image in the layer panel. Do this, then Paint becomes an option in the View dropdown list.
    Question 3: What is the command the text gives you to undo all of the paint strokes you tried in step 4?
    Question 4: What is the method the text give you to reposition the image in the Layer panel?
  5. Follow the instructions to add eyeshadow to one of the mask's eyes. (It does not matter which one.) Note the difference between painting in the RGBA channel and painting in the RGB channel. Use a different color than the one used by the authors.
  6. Step 6 shows you that there is a long list of choices for the Blending Mode of the brushstrokes you have just made. Experiment with them to see some the different ways you can blend your brush strokes with the existing image. It also shows you how to modify a long list of parameters for the brushstroke itself.
  7. Note the warning in the second paragraph for step 7 (dumb place to put it) before you carry out this step.
  8. Paint a new color over the lips of the mask as instructed. Make it your own choice of color, not the one the authors picked.
  9. Work with the Stroke Options parameters, Start and End. Follow the instructions to set keyframes at 0 seconds and 1 second. Run the animation as instructed. You may not see the animation at first.
    Question 5: Where does the animation play? (Hint: where doe it always play?)
  10. Follow the instructions to animate the brush strokes for the eyes as well. Follow the text's suggestion to stagger the effects across the timeline.
  11. Save your version of this comp and show it to me for credit for this exercise..

Tutorial 2 (The Puppet Tool) This tutorial starts on page 254. It is about animating a piece of art in a different way, typically with the image of a person or a character.

  1. Close all comps, and change to the Standard workspace.Open the project and comp file indicated on page 254. You will see the authors' rather unattractive character on the screen. Once again, when they tell you to select a file, they mean to select the layer in the timeline that has its name.
  2. The authors tell you to select the Puppet Pin tool in the Tools panel. They mean the button bar above the Project panel. Hover over it and you will see the keyboard command to select it.
    Question 6: What is the keyboard command to select the Puppet Pin tool?
    Follow the instructions in the text to set the Mesh parameters they want. You will not see a mesh on the character image until the next step. The mesh is important because it is what allows the character image to flex.
  3. Using the Pin tool, put a pin in the image for each ankle. You screen may look like the picture on the bottom of page 254.
  4. This step tells you to put a pin in the "arm on the left". This is the character's right arm, but it is on your left since you are facing each other. In this chapter, the authors continue to refer to the character's right arm as "the left arm". I consider this poor, imprecise notation, but we can use it now that we understand it.
    Drag the pin in the character's arm as instructed and you will get an idea of what this tool is for.
  5. Add a pin to the pencil in the character's hand.
  6. Follow the instructions in this step to animate one pin, then two pins together.
    Question 7: How do you create keyframes with the Puppet Pin tool? .

Tutorial 3 (Puppet Overlap Tool): This exercise continues the Pupper Pin lesson. It starts on page 256.

  1. Open the comp specified.
  2. Select the indicated layer. Note that the authors have configured this character with three puppet pins.
  3. Disable the mesh this time as indicated. Drag the puppets arm as instructed, over its hips and over its shoulder to see the pass behind and pass over effects currently in place.
    The authors tell you to select the Puppet Overlap tool, but they do not tell you how to do it.
    The Puppet Pin button has a white triangle in its lower right corner. Click and hold on that triangle. You will see a menu appear that will let you choose between the Puppet Pin tool, the Puppet Overlap tool, and the Puppet Starch tool. Choose the Puppet Overlap tool.
    Continue with this step to place a white shadow over the entire arm of the character.
    Question 8: What parameter must have its value increased to increase the size of this white shadow?
    Continue with this step to drag the puppet's arm over its hips again, this time passing in front of the body instead of behind it.
  4. In step 4, you will use a version of the Motion Sketch tool to animate a pin in the puppet. Note that the timeline is very short in this comp, so move quickly if you are going to move far.

Tutorial 4 (Puppet Starch Tool): This exercise continues the Pupper Pin lesson. It starts on page 257.

  1. Open the comp specified. Make sure to select the Puppet object in the miroman.psd layer, as well as selecting the Puppet Pin tool.
  2. Drag one of the pins in the image as instructed. If you drag one of the outer tie pins away from the puppet's body, the deformation the authors want you to see will be more apparent. Leave the neck deformed as you do the next step.
  3. Switch to the Puppet Starch tool and use it as instructed. This will fix the deformation in the puppet.

Assignment (Puppet Tools)

  1. Start a new comp. Add an image of your own to it. It could be you, someone you know, a character you have drawn, or almost any other character figure.
  2. Use the Puppet Tools to animate your image.
  3. Show me the animation you create.